Credibility deficit

Ben Cohen’s Jerusalem Post op ed, along with this response to Dispatches from Kosher Conspiracy Mag, reminded me of Jon Pike speaking nearly two years ago about the ‘Livingstone manoeuvre’:

“… testimonial injustice occurs when “prejudice on the hearer’s part causes him to give the speaker less credibility than he would otherwise have given.” (Fricker p 4) The speaker sustains such a testimonial injustice if and only if she receives a credibility deficit owing to identity prejudice in the hearer; so the central case of testimonial injustice is identity-prejudicial credibility deficit. (Fricker 27)

To fix these ideas, think of the black person who is disbelieved by the police, the woman whose charge of rape is disbelieved, and rejected by a jury, and the person whose accent causes their knowledge claims to be disbelieved, and preventing them form getting an elite academic post.

What sort of injustices are these?

Identity-prejudicial credibility deficit is strongly evident in sexist and misogynist attitudes to women who are victims of rape. Because of the adversarial nature of the judicial system, the prosecutorial role of the police, and because of misogynistic attitudes on the part of juries, it seems very likely that women are victims of testimonial injustice in this way: women are not believed. Why not? The misogynist story is familiar: the woman who cried rape had, in fact, had consenting sex with her alleged attacker, but then regretted it, and attempted to get out of difficulty by making a false accusation of rape. This is the sort of thought entertained by, it seems, very many juries.

The next point in the argument is straightforwardly concessive. One, sometimes, probably, a few people do aim to deflect criticism of Israel, by making false allegations of anti-Semitism. Two, sometimes, probably, a few women do try to get out of exculpate their own behaviour, by making false accusations of rape. It’s not plausible to say neither of these things ever happen.

But what is, and what should be, the general attitude of those on the left to such phenomena? What is the case is this: we are attuned to the idea that we ought to listen carefully and sympathetically to women who make charges of rape. We ought to listen to the victims, attend to their concerns, establish an environment in which they can safely articulate their narrative. And we maintain this general stance in the knowledge that, yes, perhaps in a very few cases, the charge may be false.

But the attitude of the anti-Zionist left towards those who make charges of anti-semitism is the opposite. The raising of concern about anti-semitism gets you the Livingstone manoeuvre. This is the general stance, which does not sit carefully with, but fully draws on the idea that, yes, perhaps in a vey few cases the charge may be ill-intentioned and false. The general stance on the left is to attribute a credibility deficit here.”

The rest is here.

2 Responses to “Credibility deficit”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    It must be the lateness of the hour (post-midnight) and the fact that the film “Bright Star” is still resonating, but I’m not sure how we get from the Sholto Byrne in The New Statesman (more of him anon) to Bernard Harrison’s book on “The resurgence of antisemitism…” with its critique of the Statesman’s “A Kosher Conspiracy” issue, especially when the link to the Harrison book is presented as being from the “Kosher Conspiracy Mag”.

    However, back to Byrne: bear in mind that this comes from the same place that gave us “A Kosher Conspoiracy?” in the first place. Byrne asserts that Channel 4 was brave to make and show its dispatches programme by Oborne on “the lobby”. The link to the CST blog (written by Mark Gardener?) in the comments attached to the earlier article on the site on the Oborne programme says all that needs to be said here…but, regrettably, it still needs saying again. Byrne implies that Channel 4 somehow had to overcome the power of the lobby (that Oborne so graciously acknowledges doesn’t actually exist) to make and air this programme.

    “Pass the sick bag, Alice”, as Gore Vidal would say in a somewhat different context.

    And as for Rabbi Goldberg and his assertion that the Israeli government is practicising apartheid on the West Bank…well, the kindest thing one can say about this is that the Rabbi displays a remarkably lack of political awareness…unless, of course, he honestly believes that the South African apartheid regime was _actually occupying_ (in the literal “we conquered it by force of arms” sense) South Africa, rather than exerting political power in a skewed and racist system in which the Afrikaaners and English-speakers had rigged the system to give themselves power.

    Lots of things can be said about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but hardly this. Occupying powers don’t practice apartheid: they occupy.

    At least Rabbi Goldberg doesn’t make the same assertion about what happens within Green Line Israel – or did I miss something in the Byrne article? I have to confess that I didn’t see the tv programme, so it may be there, of course.

  2. Lynne T Says:


    The level of awareness Rabbi Goldberg is probably exercising is the sort that takes resolutions form the UN and its various agencies, sundry NGOs and pronunciations from Bishop Tutu as irrefutable determinations of fact.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: